Being new to the Toronto Argonauts posts, and only having seen one Toronto game so far this season (against my Tiger-Cats), I know less than I would have hoped to know going into writing my first Argonauts game preview. So here’s what I do know:
I know that the CFL scheduled the Hamilton Tiger-Cats opening game against the Toronto Argonauts at the Rogers Centre so that the Argos could unveil their championship banner and simultaneously rub it in their provincial rivals faces (must’ve been just a little bit sweeter). I know that the opening game ended in similar heartbreak for the Tiger-Cats when they were set up with a 1st and goal with just 9 seconds left on the clock and couldn’t complete a pass to win the game. I know that the Toronto Argonauts then lost to the B.C. Lions, as they seem to always do when visiting the West Coast. And I also know that the Argonauts are on a solid 3-game winning streak since that West Coast trip beating the sluggish Blue Bombers, getting revenge on the B.C. Lions at home and then heading to Montreal to embarrass a quarterback named Anthony Calvillo, who has shown the nation that he is both human, and perhaps on the verge of (finally!) becoming an old man.
So that brings us to Week 8 of the CFL regular season where the Edmonton Eskimos are slated to visit the Toronto Argonauts at the Rogers Centre. And we’re in luck, because the Eskimos and Tiger-Cats have already finished their season series against each other, meaning I know a thing or two about this years Eskimos team.
Two weeks ago, the Edmonton Eskimos rallied back from a 12-point halftime deficit against the Tiger-Cats to only fall short as kicker Grant Shaw missed a 50-yard field goal attempt with no time left on the clock. Normally, I would have said this gutsy comeback would be giving the Eskimos some much needed momentum coming into Sunday’s game, but unfortunately for them the bye week most likely killed the little momentum a comeback loss can muster up.
The Edmonton Eskimos have struggled this season. They currently sit last place in the West Division with a 1-5 record. Quarterback Mike Reilly has had some success on paper, but those statistics haven’t transferred into wins. Last week against the Tiger-Cats Reilly threw for 311 yards and a touchdown, but that didn’t stop the coaching staff from also fielding 2nd and 3rd string quarterbacks Kerry Joseph and Jonathan Crompton at some point during the game.
On the defensive side of the ball the Edmonton Eskimos are ranked somewhere in the middle of the CFL, but will need to play their best defense of the season against a nearly perfect gunslinger in Ricky Ray. This will be an even tougher task with last year’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player JC Sherritt out of the lineup with a broken thumb.
When I say Ricky Ray has been a nearly perfect quarterback as of late I mean it. The quarterback has gone 34-of-38 passing for 438 yards and five touchdowns in his last two starts. Ray has a 76.6 percent completion average, good enough for tops among all CFL starting quarterbacks. Ray’s success is something for CFL defenses to be very afraid of. At this point in the season, the pivot looks as sharp as ever.
The Toronto Argonauts are on a 3-game winning streak, while entering a three game home field stretch. Home field advantage for the next 3 weeks has a great potential for success in the near future for the Double Blue. Dare I jinx the Argos in saying they have a great opportunity to go undefeated through 6 games? Yes, anything to jinx the Argos… after all, I am from Hamilton. The Argonauts are going to win 6 straight games! But seriously, this could really happen. The defending Grey Cup Champions are hitting their mid-season form and looking to compete with Saskatchewan for the strongest team in the CFL right now.
I see the Argonauts continuing their winning ways in convincing fashion against the Edmonton Eskimos on Sunday at the Rogers Centre. Look for a big game from Ricky Ray and his receiving core against a weakened Eskimos defense.